Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2001 | 11:44 a.m.
Jeff Haney's sports betting column appears Wednesday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 259-4041.
The cancellation of the Aug. 13 Eagles-Ravens game in Philadelphia left more than a few NFL teaser bettors in a mood to boo Santa Claus.
Bettors who teased all NFL underdogs of 1 to 2 1/2 points in two-team, 6-point combinations that week had already cashed at least six wagers, and had the Eagles plus 8 points on at least four more tickets.
The first half of each of those teasers was already in, and the standard betting line on the game was the Eagles plus 2. So when problems with the carpet at the Vet led to the postponement of the game, it surely qualified as a sort of bad beat.
Guess you could say those bettors suffered a serious case of "rug burn."
Even so, they finished the first full week of preseason games with no losses and at least six wins in addition to the refunded tickets.
This past weekend also proved successful. Only one team in that category failed to cover in teaser wagering -- the Jaguars on Thursday night. At least four other teams did cover -- the Packers, Giants, Jets and Eagles.
Teaser bettors who followed this strategy have recorded at least 12 wins and no more than four losses along with the refunded wagers.
This tactic -- teasing NFL 'dogs of 1 to 2 1/2 points -- is just one of many concepts being discussed this preseason on the Sharp Sports Betting website (sharpsportsbetting.com), the online companion to Stanford Wong's new book of the same name.
"That's what I think is the real value of the site -- it's a place for very knowledgeable people to get together and exchange ideas on how to find advantageous bets," Wong said Saturday at the Gambler's Book Shop, where he was signing autographs and mingling with bettors.
In the book Sharp Sports Betting, Wong presents situations in which NFL teaser wagers have historically been profitable.
On the website, a crew of talented sports bettors fine-tuned the idea and determined that in the preseason, certain NFL teasers are worth what Kenny Uston used to call "chunk bets." That is, grab a big chunk of chips -- or bills -- and bet 'em.
Wong said he has personally made more than $10,000 betting this year's NFL preseason. Wong, who owns a home in La Jolla, Calif., and drives a Lexus, said he must make wagers of at least $1,100 for sports betting to be worth his time.
Note that some gamblers fared even better by shopping aggressively and finding additional "teasable" teams. Or by venturing into the realm of multiple-team teasers rather than sticking to two-teamers. Or by betting with offshore outlets that pay even money on 6-point, two-team NFL teasers.
The examples shown here represent a limited, conservative approach.
The best places to play NFL teasers in Las Vegas are Coast Resorts and the Arizona Charlie's properties, which charge a reasonable minus 110 on 6-point two-teamers.
The minus 120 that most other casinos charge makes it much more difficult to find advantageous bets. In fact, some Las Vegas casinos don't accept NFL two-team teasers at all.
Many gamblers had bemoaned the fact that total wins wagering seemed to be disappearing from the football betting scene.
The Imperial Palace sports book deserves credit for being the first in town to have hung lines on the wager, which asks bettors to predict whether an NFL team's number of regular-season wins will go over or under a posted number.
The Mandalay Bay sports book offers an attractive 20-cent straddle on its total wins betting (minus 110 each way, for example), meaning it should probably be the first and last stop for line shoppers.
On the other hand, the Excalibur sports book employs a less attractive 40-cent straddle (minus 120 each way, for example).
Total wins betting is also available in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace and related properties, which use a 30-cent line (minus 115 each way), as does the IP.
The Terrible's properties in Pahrump also have hung total wins numbers, using a 20-cent line.
Terrible's Las Vegas, meanwhile, has posted seven NFL head-to-head matchups, giving bettors the opportunity to wager on which of the two teams will have more wins this season.
The matchups: Titans vs. Buccaneers; Vikings vs. Dolphins; Seahawks vs. Saints; Lions vs. Steelers; Chargers vs. Bears; Cowboys vs. Bengals; Cardinals vs. Browns.
A bettor-friendly 20-cent line is in effect. For instance, recently the price on the Chargers was minus 130 with a takeback of plus 110 on the Bears.
Las Vegans Paul Zubernick and Richard Goodall advanced to the marquee event -- considered the U.S. Open of horseplayers -- with their performance in the MGM Grand's "Surf & Turf" handicapping contest.
Zubernick finished second to Michael Libretto of New York City in the event, collecting $31,600 in prize money. Libretto took home the $79,000 top prize along with a spot in January's main event.
Also qualifying was Sid Weiner of Saugus, Mass., who placed third and won $23,700.
Goodall advanced by winning a special "Early Bird" portion of the MGM Grand contest.
The DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship features a top individual prize of $100,000. The four-man MGM Grand contingent is also eligible for a $20,000 team award.
Another MGM contest, conducted in June, yielded a separate team of DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship qualifiers: Michael Mayo, Sally Wang, Bobby Brendler and Brian Wagner.
This past January, Judy Wagner of New Orleans topped a field of 204 to win the grand prize of $100,000 and the title "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year."